Breaking the Mold – new exhibition at gallery 198

Breaking the Mold: new signatures from the DRC is the work of 12 emerging artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and marks the reopening of this large gallery in Brixton after extensive renovations. Most of the artists are from the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa, and this is their first exhibition in the UK.

The work is on display in three rooms, each with a different theme reflecting issues at the heart of Africa.

There is a range of techniques, mediums and subjects exhibited, but each work in one way or another reflects the issues and aesthetics of the heart of Africa.

The first room – Revisiting history and material production – opens with six striking masks. Using contemporary materials, Urban portraits represent a modern version of traditional artifacts. Ishango Transcendent Downgrade 1.2 is a mixed technique composition based on images of a Congolese tool dating from 20,000 BC. It has a modernist feel of the Machine Age in which domino tiles form a coincident tie with a traditional Brixton hobby. Nefercongo series of photographs includes a haunting image of the artist among ancient structures.

boy photo
photo by Isha Mcculloch

The second room – Urban experiences – focuses on urban life in the DRC and includes abstract and figurative pieces. What stands out in particular is Waiting File Part 2 – a powerful series of images of young men. Rusty razor blades depicting their skin and shorts from foreign football clubs create stark portraits of struggling and struggling young people dreaming of escaping the shadow of colonial oppression. The heavy burden of having nothing to documents the informal economy in which these young men must survive.

The third room – Personal stories – is largely devoted to photography. Perpetual disconnection is a family series that combines beauty, mystery, sadness and loss in fascinating visual forms.

It is a fascinating and deeply moving spectacle. Using traditional and contemporary art forms, these talented young artists give us their perspectives and ideas on Africa’s second largest country.

The artists are: Arlette Bashizi, Beau Disundi, Ghislain Ditshekedi, Godelive Kasangati, Anastasie Langu, Jamil Lusala, Catheris Mondombo, Arsène Mpiana, Stone Mutshikene, Chris Shongo, Ange Swana and Joycenath Tshamala.

Admission is free and the show runs until November 28 at 198 Contemporary arts and learning, 198 Railton Road, SE24 0JT. For more information, visit or call 020 7978 8309

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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